As a barber, you will be an expert of classic masculine style, bringing class and sophistication to the art of men’s hair, beard, and moustache design. But barbers do more than give their clients a perfect cut, shave, and style. They create a communal atmosphere where men can come together, network, and walk out confident in how they look. Whether catering to a wealthy clientele in Bellevue’s high-end shopping districts, businessmen in Seattle’s financial district, or hip clients in one of the classic-chic shops located in Capitol Hill, as a licensed barber in Washington you’ll work to create an experience and refine a look unique to each client.
Your barbering career starts by qualifying for a license through the Washington State Department of Licensing’s Cosmetology, Barbering, Esthetics, and Manicuring Advisory Board. As a Board-licensed barber you will specialize in the cutting, styling, and designing of hair, moustaches, and beards.
For a detailed guide on how to become a licensed barber in Washington, follow these simple steps:
Step 1. Complete a 1000-Hour Barber Training Program
Your first step toward a Washington barber license is completing a training program through a recognized barber school. The Washington Board requires that your program contain at least 1000 hours of theoretical and practical training, with no more than 25% of your skills training involving the use of mannequins.
Your barber college program must cover the following topics to meet the Board-mandated education requirements:
- Theory and Practice of Barbering
- Barbering Business Practices
- Shampooing, Conditioning, and Rinsing
- Draping, Brushing, Scalp Manipulations
- Cutting and Trimming of Facial Hair
- Beard, Mustache, and Eyebrow Design
- Artificial Hair
- Sanitation, Disinfection, and Sterilizations
- Diseases and Disorders of the Skin, Scalp, and Hair
- Safety and Proper Use of Implements
The Washington Board will allow you to complete an apprenticeship in lieu of formal schooling. To do so, you will need to work under the direct supervision of a licensed barber within a licensed barbershop, where you will obtain 1,200 hours of documented training.
Once you successfully complete your barber program or apprenticeship, you will be referred to the National Testing Network (Ergometrics). Once Ergometrics receives notification that you have successfully completed your education program, you will receive a username and password that will allow you to register for the Washington barber licensing exams.
Step 2. Submit Washington Licensing Examination Application
Once you receive your Ergometrics username and password, you will be able to apply online to take the Washington barber licensing exams. To apply, you must be at least 17 years old and in the last 80 hours of your barber training program. If you meet these qualifications, submit an application by completing the following steps:
- Download and Read the Barber Exam Preparation Guide
- Submit Online Exam Application
- Pay $120 Practical Exam Fee
- Pay $60 Written Exam Fee
Step 3. Pass Written and Practical Licensing Exams
Once your application is approved, you may schedule the date, time, and location for your written and practical examinations. Once you schedule your exam, you will need to arrive on the exam day 30 minutes early with two forms of identification.
You will have 90 minutes to complete the written exam, which is an online, multiple-choice exam. This exam will cover barber theory subjects, as well as Washington State Laws. You should be prepared to answer questions in the following barber subject areas:
- Infection Control and Safe Practices
- Tools, Implements, and Equipment
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Hair Care Services
- Client Consultation
- Shaving Services
- Draping Procedures
- Facial Hair Design
- Haircutting and Styling
- Chemistry Related to Products
The written exam is offered at the following testing locations:
- Vancouver Testing Center
- Olympia Testing Center
- Everett Testing Center
- Spokane Testing Center
- Wenatchee Testing Center
- Pasco Testing Center
- Yakima Testing Center
Fro the practical exam, you will need to bring a kit of supplies and a mannequin head. Then, you will need to perform the following barber services within the time limit:
- Set Up and Client Protection – 10 minutes
- Shaving with a Straight Razor – 20 minutes
- Haircutting – 30 minutes
- Candidate Summary and Final Cleanup – unlimited
The practical exam is offered at the following testing locations:
- Fife Testing Center
- Spokane Testing Center
Your exam results will be posted on your online account within one week after completing your examination. Once you receive notice that you have passed both exams with a score of 75% or higher, you may submit your barber license application.
Step 4. Submit your Washington Barber License Application
After you have passed your exams, you will be able to apply for your license and submit your fee. To do so, complete the following steps:
- Submit License Application Online
- Pay $30 License Fee
Ergometrics will send your application to the Washington Board as soon as your payment is received. Once the Board approves your application, you will receive your Washington barber license.
Step 5. Begin your Barbering Career in Washington
Once you are a licensed barber in Washington, you may rent a chair or find conventional employment in any of Washington’s barbershops. The greater Seattle – Bellevue – Everett metropolitan area is known for being among the top 10 highest paying areas for barbers in the United States, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of the best-rated barbershops along the I-5 corridor include:
- Valentine’s Men’s Grooming Salon – Seattle
- Classic Barber & Style Shop – Seattle
- Bellevue Barber Shop – Bellevue
- The Barber Shop – Everett
- Looking Glass Barber Shop – Everett
If you prefer to own your own barbershop, you will need to apply for a business license. To do so, complete the following steps:
- Submit a Business License Application
- Complete a Salon/Shop License Application
- Submit the $110 Application Fee (payable to the Department of Licensing)
You will need to submit all application materials and fees to the Washington Board at the following address:
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3856
Seattle, WA 98124-3856
Step 6. Renew your Washington Barber License
The Washington Board will send you a renewal notice and a password for renewal as the deadline for renewal approaches. Once you receive this, you have two options to renew: online or by mail. If you are late renewing your license, you will be charged a $110 late renewal fee.
To renew online, all you need to do is complete the following steps:
- Submit Online Renewal Form (with password on renewal notice)
- Complete Renewal Information
- Pay $55 Renewal Fee with Credit Card
If you prefer to renew by mail, simply follow these steps:
- Send Completed Paper Renewal Form to the Board
- Include $55 Money Order or Check (payable to the Department of Licensing)
If you choose this method, you may mail you renewal materials to the Board at the following address:
Barber Salaries in Washington
Washington is a great state in which to pursue a career as a barber. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is one of the top five highest paying areas in the US for barbering. In addition, it has the fourth highest employment level and the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for this occupation.
Barbers in Washington are licensed by the State Department of Licensing after passing both a written and a performance examination. Persons may take the exams after successfully completing either 1,000 hours of study/training at a barbering school or 1,200 of an approved apprenticeship.
Washington Barber Salaries Compared with National Averages
Barbers earn more than the national averages in Washington state as indicated by the following BLS figures.
Salaries tend to be higher in metropolitan areas. The BLS lists Seattle-Bellevue-Everett as the eighth highest paying metropolitan area in the country. A barber’s earnings are also impacted by tipping which is normally 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the service.